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Content Writing for Google

The other day, the head of our SEO team slipped up and called Google, “God.” At least, he said it was a slip. But since he once told the content team that we write for Google and not for people, we’ve got no trouble believing that he, like many others, worships at the altar of Goog.

We have this kind of – ongoing war – in the office. Every morning there’s a furious squabble over the last drop of milk in the fridge, followed by the surreptitious theft of next door’s carton, and then we troop into the office for the real war. One which often sees using bad language and far too many exclamation marks, with Skype as the battleground and our MD as the United Nations, trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement. The war of Content versus SEO.

I’ve got nothing against SEO, except to say that it belongs in the eighth circle of Dante’s Inferno. For a writer, the beast known as ‘SEO writing’ is just about the most depressing and demoralising thing you can do to yourself. Never mind being found on Google, what if you don’t want to be found because when you get there  your readers are subjected to 400 words of carefully constructed, keyword-threaded gibberish? Is Google really anally-retentive enough to penalise you if you’re over the character count (with spaces)? And just who are all these barely literate people typing ‘free bingo no deposit’ into their search engines?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Google’s changing algorithms and the incessant need for content, but is the need for more content, or better content? In my opinion, the world doesn’t need more data – it needs a better quality of information and an easier way to access it and separate it from the hordes of trash on the web.

Unfortunately, it seems like the only way to stand out is to follow Google’s rules and produce reams of content – and not every company is willing to employ in-house writers to ensure that what goes on their site makes sense.

What amazes me is not the number of people who don’t know what’s going on their sites; it’s the number of people who don’t care. For all the chatter about the gaming ‘community’, I can’t tell you how many site owners shrug and tell me they buy their articles from India and post them verbatim on their sites. I’m puzzled by this; this is your site, your brand, your company. Don’t you want to be represented in the best way possible? Isn’t there some level of – I don’t know – personal pride that goes with a well-made site with no spelling errors and more than a casual relationship with punctuation?

The true purpose of content is to provide information and you need to provide it in a readable format. If you can provide that information in an entertaining fashion, so much the better. As any social media guru will tell you, there’s tremendous power in a community – and in order to build a community, you have to have readable, interesting content that readers will understand and engage with.

So here’s a novel idea: instead of more content, produce better content. There are always going to be the companies who pump out software-spun nonsense and paste it all over their site with nary a care in the world; let them. The goal is to have people coming back to the site for interesting and well-written information or opinions.

About The Author

Hailing from Australia, Kahmen Lai worked as an executive for broadcast network The Seven Media Group. She has been the Director of Content and Social Media at online casino, Big Gains No Pains, since the company’s inception in 2011.